DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – The United States (US) military launched interceptor missiles during an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that targetted the United Arab Emirates (UA) during a visit by Israel’s president, the second-such time American troops have opened fire, officials said.
The acknowledgement by the White House and Pentagon late Monday represent a widening American involvement in Yemen’s yearslong war, a conflict that US President Joe Biden declared nearly a year ago “has to end”.
While the US has ended offensive support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government, their involvement in defending the UAE comes as the rebel Houthis have declared Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi a target.
Al-Dhafra hosts some 2,000 American troops and has served as a major base of operations for everything from armed drones to F-35 stealth fighters.
Speaking from the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US military “responded to an inbound missile threat on the UAE.
“This involved the employment of Patriot interceptors to … (support) efforts by the armed forces of the UAE,” Psaki said. “I would say we are working quite closely with them.”
At the Pentagon, Press Secretary John Kirby said that “US Patriots were fired, but it was the Emirati surface-to-air missiles that actually engaged the targets”.
Asked if that would include targets outside of Al-Dhafra, Kirby said: “ If we can help defend our Emirati partners, we’re going to do that.”
Biden also mentioned the attack on the UAE at the White House during a visit by Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, saying that “America will have the backs of our friends in the region”.